Since independence, there has been no more accurate barometer of the malfeasance of Pakistan’s government or the volatility of its political system than the frequent fate of the country’s leaders – assassination, execution, prison or disgrace.
Such is the fate of Pakistan’s former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, who was sentenced to death in absentia for treason over his 2007 suspension of the constitution in 2007 when he declared emergency rule in a move intended to extend his tenure. He resigned in 2008 to avoid impeachment.
The significance of the sentence is questionable and it is unlikely that the sentence will be carried out. Although Musharraf was formerly charged with treason in 2014, he was allowed to leave Pakistan in 2016 and is now living in Dubai.
It is indeed ironic that Musharraf, who initiated Pakistan’s duplicity against the US at the start of the Afghanistan war and worked in tandem with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI), sought US support in 2018 to regain power in Pakistan by telling American lawmakers he was “ashamed” of the ISI, especially by being negligent about knowing the location of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden inside Pakistan.
Just four days after 9/11, on September 15, 2001, Musharraf held a meeting with ISI Director Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed, Lt. General Muzaffar Usmani, Lt. General Jamshaid Gulzar Kiani, and Lt. General Mohammed Aziz Khan. The military officers argued that Pakistan should not help the US at all in its war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Mahmood stated, “Let the US do its dirty work. Its enemies are our friends.”
Musharraf countered that publicly agreeing with the US would lead to billions of dollars in aid and the lifting of sanctions against Pakistan due to its illicit nuclear activities.
On September 19, 2001, Musharraf still failed to condemn the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban or Al-Qaeda during an important televised speech, implying that Pakistan’s alliance with the US was only a temporary and opportunistic necessity. He said, “I have done everything for Afghanistan and the Taliban when the whole world was against them. We are trying our best to come out of this critical situation without any damage to them.”
Presumably with Musharraf’s approval, Pakistan’s ISI would continue to supply the Taliban in Afghanistan with fuel, weapons, and even military advisers, until at least November 2001.
Prior to the October 7, 2001 US attack on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s ISI Director Mahmood continued to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Omar and told him how to resist the US and not to hand over Osama bin Laden.
In addition, according to journalist Kathy Gannon, Mahmood, having just come from meetings with top officials in the US, gave Mullah Omar information about the likely next move by the Americans. By then, Mahmood knew there weren’t going to be a lot of US soldiers on the ground. He warned Mullah Omar that the Americans would be relying heavily on aerial bombardment and on the Northern Alliance. Mahmood gave additional information on targets likely to be hit, such as command and control systems and anti-aircraft defence emplacements and what types of weapons the US would use against those targets.
The ISI informed Musharraf that the Taliban would hold out at least until the spring of 2002, and then would mount a guerrilla war. Encouraged, Musharraf allowed the ISI to continue to supply the Taliban on a daily basis.
Also prior to the US attack, so many fuel tankers and supply trucks were crossing the Pakistan-Afghan border in Chaman, Balochistan, regular traffic was shut down to allow ISI supplies through to the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, where Pakistani military advisors remained until November 2001.
A December 8, 2001 New York Times article described ISI-sponsored convoys of rifles, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters crossing the Khyber Pass border from Pakistan into Afghanistan between October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan began.
Jalaluddin Haqqani (Haqqani Network), who controlled the Khost region of eastern Afghanistan where most of bin Laden’s training camps and supporters were, made a secret trip to Pakistan, where ISI Director Mahmood advised him to hold out and not defect, promising that he will have help.
The same pattern of Pakistani duplicitous behaviour, initiated by Musharraf, continues to this day. No American should shed a tear for the fate of the father of that duplicity.
This column was originally published at WION.
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